Back in high school I surrounded myself with likeminded individuals. Even though we had our discrepancies, a common love for the game of basketball kept us close. Some of us played together in high school, while some of us were cut freshman year, developing a grudge that still carries on to this day. We would watch college basketball games together and at least once a week would drive over to a 76ers game after practice.
As the years went on we each chose different paths in life. While several still live in the Philadelphia area, a few have moved away. Although we are all located sporadically throughout the world, that common love of Philadelphia sports keeps us close. This week I had the pleasure of gathering the "brain trust" together for a few nights of basketball talk.
It couldn't have come at a better time. With the NBA playoffs about to reach its exciting conclusion, the NBA Draft Combine showcasing the talent which will be available in June, and the lottery sealing the order for the upcoming draft, there was plenty to discuss.
My initial thought was to have us all perform a mock draft, but after six or seven drinks that idea quickly dissipated. Instead we decided to discuss the options the Sixers could have with the 16th pick.
In terms of needs, the Sixers should be looking at either a big guy, who can defend, rebound and preferably score, or a guy that is a knockdown shooter. My preference would be a big. Luckily for us this draft, although not deep with talent, is deep with potentially good big men.
We devised a list of several players, fitting these categories, which could be available. We tried to make a case for each player in either a good or a bad way. Since there are several players at each position, I decided to break down the potential big men today and the shooters later this week all leading up to the NBA Mock Draft 2011.
If I were the Sixers this would be my pick. Faried is an energy guy who could really make a difference in Philadelphia. If there is one thing this city loves it is effort, and this player has plenty to spare. I will admit, prior to the NBA Draft Combine, I did not know much about Faried. He was described to me only as a "bull in a china shop". However after watching his performance in Chicago, along with watching some of his college games, I have become a fan.
Interior "toughness" is definitely lacking in Philadelphia. Although I think Elton Brand plays a physical game, the need for his offense limits his defense. A guy like Faried would be great to pair along with Brand, making them a tough team to score against. The biggest knock on Faried is his size. Listed at just 6'7.5" with shoes on, he is definitely undersized. However, Faried posses a 7'0" wingspan and a 9'0" standing reach, longer than many taller players in the draft. His overall length, combined with his athleticism could translate well in the NBA.
Shockingly enough when it came time to discuss the foreign players, we could not tell one from the other. And this year with six predicted to be drafted in the first round, the names became important. Aware that Jonas Valanciunas, Bismack Biyombo, or Enes Kanter should all be lottery picks, it was time to focus on Motiejunas.
From what I have heard about Motiejunas' game, he resembles a young Dirk Nowitzki. This has also been said about every foreign player drafted since the 1998 NBA Draft, a year infamous to Sixers fans since we passed on both Dirk and Paul Pierce in favor of Larry Hughes.
Although Motiejunas may never be as talented as Nowitzki, if he occasionally shows the same flashes of brilliance, he could be a steal at 16. Listed at 7'0" and 240 pounds and with a jump shot to match, he is predicted by some to be the most complete foreign player in the draft this year.
One of the members of the brain trust recommended Williams higher than some of the other candidates, mainly because both he and Williams are Maryland grads. Williams is an intriguing player though. He put up solid numbers in college basketball's toughest conference and has a new "healthy" mindset going forward.
My biggest issue with Williams is his work ethic. He obviously had enough natural talent to succeed at the highest level of college basketball, while carrying unnecessary weight. At only 20 years old, he may develop the maturity and dedication needed to succeed in the NBA. I hope so...I for one do not want to see a Marreese Speights clone.
Morris, although not as highly touted as his twin brother, would be a solid pick for the Sixers at 16. The Morris twins are both local products, who grew up in Philadelphia. Markieff listed at 6'9.25", has done a good job using his quickness and shooting ability to neutralize taller opponents.
Morris has a stronger offensive game than the other candidates listed, however, as of yet, has not shown the aggressiveness to be the legitimate defender and rebounder this team is so desperate for. If he is still on the board at 16, the Sixers front office will need to seriously question whether or not they can pass on a player of Morris' caliber.
Very similar to Faried, but with a better offensive game. Both players are slightly undersized, but make up for it with wingspan. I honestly don't see him remaining on the board until the Sixers pick, however if he does, he may make Rod Thorn's life easier.
If I have to nitpick, I will say that although he possesses an excellent motor, he doesn't seem to have the same toughness as Faried.
These players are some of the forward/centers whom I believe may be available to the Sixers with the 16th pick in June's draft. Knowing what we currently know, I don't think you can really go wrong with any of them. Stay tuned this week, as I break down the other positions the Sixers could be interested in next month.